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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Sweden striker Marcus Berg completes move from Panathinaikos to Al Ain on two-year deal

The Sweden international joins having scored 73 goals in 116 league matches for the Greek side.
Marcus Berg, left, puts pen to paper on his two-year contract with Arabian Gulf League club Al Ain. Courtesy Al Ain
Marcus Berg, left, puts pen to paper on his two-year contract with Arabian Gulf League club Al Ain. Courtesy Al Ain

Al Ain have finally completed the acquisition of Sweden international Marcus Berg from Panathinaikos.

The Garden City club had hoped to announce the signing last week, but a disagreement with the Greek side regarding the transfer fee delayed the deal.

However, Al Ain confirmed the move was finalised on Wednesday following lengthy negotiations with Panathinaikos, with the figure believed to be around €3 million (Dh12.3m). Berg, 30, has agreed to a two-year contract, although there exists an option to renew. He replaces in the squad Saudi Arabia striker Nasser Al Shamrani.​

Ghanim Al Hajeri, chairman of Al Ain football club, said the rumours circulating on social media and in the media regarding the financial terms of the deal were incorrect, although he did commend Berg for helping push through the switch.​

“Marcus Berg displayed great desire to join Al Ain, which contributed greatly to the completion of his transfer to Al Ain,” Al Hajeri said. “Especially because the negotiations had taken a different course at a crucial moment. However, Marcus showed a keen willingness to sign for Al Ain.”

Whatever the fee, it is thought Panathinaikos received significantly less than the €5m release clause in Berg’s contract, which still had another two years to run. The Greek club were understandably disappointed to lose a striker who had scored 73 goals in 116 league matches since joining from Germany’s Hamburg in 2013. Berg had top-scored in the 2016/17 Greek Super League’s regular season, finding the net 22 times in 28 games.

A statement from Panathinaikos read: “Unfortunately, Marcus Berg chose to leave Panathinaikos because he felt that at that time, close to the end of his career, he wanted to get a big financial benefit.

“There were some misunderstandings during the negotiations. We forget them, as Marcus has offered a lot to Panathinaikos. We wish him good luck in the step he chose and wait for him if he wishes to close his career in our club.”

Berg’s signing leaves Al Ain still in the market for one final foreign player. The club, through the Asian Champions League quarter-finals later this summer, have retained Brazilian winger Caio and earlier this month added to the squad Japanese midfielder Tsukasa Shiotani.

Al Hajeri confirmed Al Ain have offers from the Gulf and Europe for Colombian winger Danilo Asprilla, while the club have been linked heavily with Bruno Uvini, the Brazilian defender at Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr. Zoran Mamic, the Al Ain manager, knows the player well from his time in charge of the Saudi side last year.

“The [end-of-season] report by Zoran was clear; it included all the needs of his team to achieve the desired goals for next season,” Al Hajeri said. “The truth is that everyone is seeking, through double efforts and a great desire, to complete the foreign file in a timely manner. We will announce all the details related to each deal after the transfer is complete.”

Berg’s competitive debut for Al Ain will most likely be the first leg of their Champions League clash with Al Hilal on August 21. A regular with the Sweden national team, he has 12 goals in 47 appearances for his country.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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